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Je Khenpo

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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See also Buddhism in Bhutan

[[File:65622_12th_Je_Khenpo.jpg|thumb|250px|The Twelfth Je Khenpo, Kunga Gyatso)]




The Je Khenpo (Tibetan: རྗེ་མཁན་པོ་, Wylie: Rje Mkhan-po; "The Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan"), formerly called the Dharma Raj by orientalists, is the title given to the senior religious hierarch of Bhutan.

His primary duty is to lead the Dratshang Lhentshog (Commission for the Monastic Affairs) of Bhutan, which oversees the Central Monastic Body, and to arbitrate on matters of doctrine, assisted by lopons (learned masters).

The Je Khenpo is also responsible for many important liturgical and religious duties across the country. The sitting Je Khenpo is also formally the leader of the southern branch of the Drukpa Kagyu sect, which is part of the Kagyu tradition of Himalayan Buddhism. Aside from the King of Bhutan, only the Je Khenpo may don a saffron kabney.

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History

According to the dual system of government established by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century, the powers of the government of Bhutan are ideally split between the religious branch, headed by the Je Khenpo, and the administrative branch, headed by the Druk Desi. The position of Je Khenpo is granted on merit by election, and typically is given to the most respected monk in the Dratshang Lhentshog (Commission for the Monastic Affairs).

Thus, unlike reincarnation lineages such as the Dalai Lama, Shabdrung, or Panchen Lama, the position of Je Khenpo is never held by a child but always by a seasoned monk.

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Historically, the role of the Je Khenpo was quite powerful. The Je Khenpo and Druk Desi collaborated to disempower the office of the Shabdrung through finding multiple incarnations of various aspects of the Shabdrung; both the Je Khenpo and the Druk Desi wanted to retain the power they had accrued through the dual system of government. However, since the establishment of the monarchy in 1907, the relative influence of the Je Khenpo has diminished. Nonetheless, the position remains a powerful one and the Je Khenpo is typically viewed as the closest and most powerful advisor to the King of Bhutan.

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The 67th Je Khenpo, Ngawang Thinley Lhundup, died at the age of 84 on June 10, 2005. He was noted as a strict disciplinarian who would not compromise any rules in managing the Central Monastic Body. In addition to his position as Je Khenpo, he was recognized as the tulku of Nyizergang, the seat of the terton Woogpa Lingpa, in Wangdue Phodrang province.

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The 70th and present Je Khenpo is Tulku Jigme Chhoeda. He is believed to be the reincarnation of Maitreya, as well as the mahasiddha Saraha, Hungchen Kara, Kheuchung Lotsawa, and Pema Tsering.

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In 2008, the office of the Je Khenpo was codified as part of Bhutan's Constitution. Under Article 3 Section 4, the King appoints the Je Khenpo as the spiritual leader of Bhutan on the recommendation of the Five Lopons. In turn, the Je Khenpo appoints, on the recommendation of the Dratshang Lhentshog (Commission for the Monastic Affairs), monks with the nine qualities of a spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog (stages of development and completion in Vajrayana practice) as the Five Lopons.

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List of Je Khenpos

17th century

Number Name Tenure
1 Pekar Jungney ? – 1672
2 Sonam Ozer 1672 – 1689
3 Pekar Lhündrup 1689 – 1697
4 Damchö Pekar 1697 – 1707

18th century

Number Name Tenure
5 Zödpa Thinley 1707 – 1724
6 Ngawang Lhündrup 1724 – 1730
7 Ngawang Thinley 1730 – 1738
8 Tenzin Norbu 1738 – 1744
9 Shakya Rinchen 1744 – 1755
10 Tenzin Chögyal 1755 – 1762
11 Ngawang Thinley 1762 – 1769
12 Kunga Jamtsho 1769 – 1771
13 Yönten Thaye 1771 – 1775
14 Tenzin Namgyal 1775 – 1781
15 Kunzang Gyaltsen 1781 – 1784
16 Sherab Singye 1784 – 1791
17 Jamgön Yeshi Dorji 1791 – 1797
18 Jamyang Gyaltshen 1797 – 1803

19th century

Number Name Tenure
19 Ngawang Chögyal 1803 – 1807
20 Yeshey Gyaltshen 1807 – 1811
21 Jampyel Drakpa 1811 – 1816
22 Jigme Gyaltsen 1816 – 1826
23 Jampyel Drakpa 1826 – 1831
24 Shakya Gyaltsen 1831 – 1836
25 Sherab Gyaltsen 1836 – 1839
26 Yönten Jamtsho 1839 – 1840
27 Pema Zangpo 1840 – 1847
28 Rinchen Zangpo 1847 – 1848
29 Pema Zangpo 1848 – 1850
30 Jampyel Jamtsho 1850 – 1851
31 Yönten Gyaltsen 1851 – 1858
32 Tshultrim Gyaltsen 1858 – 1860
33 Künga Peljor 1860 – 1861
34 Shedrup Ozer 1861 – 1865
35 Shakya Gyaltsen 1865 – 1869
36 Yönten Pelzang 1869 – 1873
37 Künga Singye 1873 – 1875
38 Shakya Gyaltsen 1875 – 1875
39 Lodrö Gyaltsen 1875 – 1878
40 Pekar Ozer 1878 – 1881
41 Ngawang Dönden 1881 – 1886
42 Thinley Gyaltsen 1886 – 1888
43 Tenzin Lhündrup 1888 – 1889
44 Thinley Gyaltsen 1889 – 1891
45 Thinley Jamtsho 1891 – 1894
46 Damchö Gyaltsen 1894 – 1899
47 Sherab Lhündrup 1899 – 1901

20th century

Number Name Tenure
48 Jamyang Rinchhen 1901 – 1903
49 Rigzin Nyingpo 1903 – 1907
50 Jampyel Shenyen 1907 – 1909
51 Jampai Tobzang 1909 – 1912
52 Pelden Singye 1912 – 1915
53 Yeshey Ngödrup) 1915 – 1917
54 Yeshey Dawa 1917 – 1918
55 Pelden Singye 1918 – 1918
56 Mipham Wangpo 1919 – 1922
57 Ngawang Gyaltsen 1922 – 1927
58 Sidzhe Namgyal 1927 – 1931
59 Chökyi Wangchuk 1931 – 1940
60 Ngawang Thinley 1940 – 1946
61 Samten Jamtsho 1946 – 1955
62 Yönten Tsündu 1955 – 1956
63 Thinley Lhündrup 1956 – 1961
64 Samten Pelzang 1961 – 1965
65 Yeshey Singye 1965 – 1968
66 Yönten Tarchen 1968 – 1971
67 Nyizer Thinley Lhendrup 1971 – ?
68 Tenzin Dundrup ? – 1990
69 Gendün Rinchen 1990 – 1996
70 Trulku Jigme Chhoedra 1996 – present

21st century

Number Name Tenure
70 Trulku Jigme Chhoedra 1996 – present

Source

Wikipedia:Je Khenpo

Wikipedia:Je Khenpo